The final statement of the “NATO Summit” in Vilnius highlighted concerns about China’s ambitious policies and increasing military power posing a threat to NATO’s interests, security, and values. In response, the spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Wang Wenbin, called on NATO to abandon its outdated “Cold War mentality” and the concept of a “zero-sum game.” Wenbin emphasized that NATO should refrain from adopting a stance that could lead to dangerous consequences in the Asia-Pacific region and urged them to play a constructive role in world peace and stability.
One of the main reasons for Beijing’s discomfort was the participation of leaders from Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand in the “NATO Summit” in Vilnius, originating from the Asia-Pacific region.
While the Biden Administration is attempting to develop dialogue with Beijing, it is simultaneously pursuing a tough policy agenda against China. The presence of China hawks in both parties in the U.S. Congress is pushing the Biden Administration towards a dual-track approach.
In the U.S., the “Anti-China Party” argues that all dialogue attempts, including “diplomacy,” with China weaken the U.S. Washington and Beijing are surrounded by a pervasive “distrust” atmosphere, with the Chinese accusing the Americans of saying one thing and doing another.
After U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and Special Climate Envoy John Kerry also visited Beijing. While Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Blinken, Janet Yellen, and John Kerry were not granted a meeting. However, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who visited China at the same time as Kerry, was warmly received in Beijing. Kissinger was the key figure who facilitated President Richard Nixon’s surprise meeting with Chinese Communist Party Leader Mao Zedong in 1972, altering the course of U.S.-China relations during the height of the Cold War.
In Beijing, Kissinger held meetings with China’s Defense Minister Li Shangfu and its top diplomat Wang Yi, and he was also received by President Xi Jinping. The 100-year-old seasoned diplomat, Kissinger, who advocates for constructive dialogue and cooperation with China, has faced harassment from China hawks. However, Beijing views Kissinger as a “friend of China.”If we return to the Vilnius Summit, Beijing complains that the U.S. is trying to bring together its European allies and Asia-Pacific allies against China. The Chinese often emphasize that NATO is being used as a tool for the U.S.’s policy.
On the other hand, the “Anti-China Party” in America’s hawks argue that NATO should expand not only in Europe but also in the Asia-Pacific region. Members of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth and Republican Senator Dan Sullivan, appeared on the “Meet The Press” program hosted by Chuck Todd on NBC News on July 16. They advocated for NATO’s expansion towards China’s neighbors. Senator Tammy Duckworth, who is also a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is known as an influential politician who played a significant role in bills related to arming Taiwan.
Both senators who participated in the “Meet The Press” program believe that NATO’s expansion towards Asia is inevitable within the next 10 years. Senator Duckworth stated, “Clearly, with the successful AUKUS agreement between the UK, Australia, and the U.S., we’ve already begun doing it.” She argued that Asian allies of the U.S. are closely watching the situation in Ukraine and realize the need to join NATO and have NATO allies return to the Indo-Pacific region.
With the exception of Belarus and Ukraine, there are no non-NATO member countries left on Russia’s western borders. NATO appears to form a wall reminiscent of the “Iron Curtain” of the “old Cold War” era between Europe and Russia. The hawks in the “Anti-China Party” in the U.S. are calling for a similar containment of China in the Asia-Pacific region, both in the East and South. Looking at the hawks’ intentions, the scope of the “New Cold War” becomes better understood.